By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
I am writing to express my outrage toward your paper for its racist statement made regarding the program “Sacred Soul” [Calendar, February 20–26], where in the announcement it was written “No Armenians allowed.” I could not believe my eyes as I felt for a moment that I was in Mississippi Burning.
Even more disturbing was the poor apology on the part of your paper [Letters to the Editor, February 27–March 4]. First of all, there is absolutely no comedy in this statement, and I don’t see how it was intended to be a joke. Secondly, this in no way is sufficient for the pain you have caused the Armenian community. I strongly urge your paper to reconsider the situation and print a thorough and appropriate apology to the Armenian community as well as dismiss the author of the above statement. If this is not done, I believe the Armenian community should take legal action due to violation of civil rights.
—Arbi Ohanian, M.D.
To Our Readers: Several people in the Armenian community have contacted us to express their concern over a carelessly written sentence in the Concerts section of our Calendar listings. While we encourage provocative language here atL.A. Weekly, and vigorously defend the right of some of our writers to offend in the context of useful political debate, we cannot defend this particular statement. It had no political context and, as Dr. Ohanian correctly points out, there is “absolutely no comedy” in what was written. Those who have been hurt by the statement should know that the writer, who has a long history of good service at the paper, did not set out to offend Armenians or any other group of people. She is horrified that anyone would take the phrase “No Armenians allowed” seriously. Fortunately, we live in a place where it is unthinkable that anyone would try to ban any ethnic group from a public event. But given the still-fresh memories of the Armenian genocide and acts of discrimination, we understand the pain our words have caused and would like to apologize again to all who were hurt by what was written. We recognize the importance of the culturally vibrant and successful Armenian community, and look forward to more positive relations in the future.
HOW MANY LAWYERS DOES IT
TAKE TO . . .?
The signers of this letter are among the most active plaintiffs’ police-misconduct, employment-discrimination, disability-rights and fair-housing lawyers in Southern California. Collectively, over the last quarter-century, we have represented thousands of ordinary people in lawsuits for civil rights violations.
The purpose of this letter is to make clear our objections to your unjustified attacks on two of our most dedicated and hard-working colleagues, Robert Mann and Cynthia Anderson-Barker, for their representation of Patricia Surjue and her two children in police-misconduct claims against the city of Inglewood. Jeffrey Anderson — who should know better, having worked for our local legal newspaper before joining L.A. Weekly — has written four misleading stories wrongly accusing these lawyers of selling out their clients in secret for an excessive and undeserved fee [“Under the Rug in Inglewood,” January 16–22; “Light of Justice,” February 13–19; “Day in the Sun,” February 20–26; “Patricia Surjue v. the World,” March 19–25].
Ms. Surjue was quite fortunate in her choice of lawyers. Mr. Mann has been among Los Angeles’ leading police-misconduct lawyers for at least 20 years. He and his partner Donald Cook are in the forefront of combating the barbaric use of police dogs to maul human beings, and have played crucial roles in many of Los Angeles’ most important police-misconduct cases over the last two decades, including the 1988 LAPD Dalton Avenue raids; the 1990 exposure of the racist Vikings gang among Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies assigned to the Lynwood substation; the class action which ended overdetentions and much unnecessary strip-searching in the Los Angeles County Jail; and a recently resolved class action for people injured by LAPD riot officers during the 2000 Democratic National Convention.
While less active than Mr. Mann in litigation, Ms. Anderson-Barker is highly regarded for her advocacy on behalf of police-misconduct victims as the president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. She has a distinguished record for defending human rights. Her résumé includes service with the Working People’s Law Center, Western Law Center for Disability Rights, Latino Community Justice Center, Proyecto Pastoral, Southern California Ecumenical Council Interfaith Task Force on Central America, Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights of Los Angeles, Steelworkers Food Bank, Central American Refugee Center, Ecumenical Project for Immigration Law, Las Familias del Pueblo and Lutheran Social Services of Southern California.
Working together, Mr. Mann and Ms. Anderson-Barker are presently among the class-action counsel for juveniles in San Bernardino County custody who claim their disabilities are not being accommodated and their education needs not met.
The $220,000 ultimately offered by the city of Inglewood to settle the claims of Ms. Surjue and her children was the result of excellent legal representation, including a successful motion for summary judgment — a difficult legal device which these lawyers used to “win” the case pretrial, leaving only the amount of damages in dispute for the jury.
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